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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/P006256/1
Title: Citizen Naturewatch
Principal Investigator: Gaver, Professor W
Other Investigators:
Boucher, Mr A
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Design
Organisation: Goldsmiths College
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 January 2017 Ends: 30 April 2021 Value (£): 771,440
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Human-Computer Interactions Mobile Computing
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Creative Industries
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
19 Jul 2016 EPSRC ICT Prioritisation Panel - Jul 2016 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Digital making (a.k.a. 'maker culture' or the 'making movement') has gained impetus with the increasing availability of low-cost microprocessor-based platforms, affordable 3D printers and lasercutters, and an online community sharing best practice and crowdfunding new projects. This has the potential to enhance UK manufacturing, multiply access to new products and encourage new forms of DIY. So far, however, these technologies have mainly been confined to FabLabs, Maker Faires and Hackathons, and used primarily by self-identified 'geeks' for self-motivated projects. Only a small proportion of schoolchildren have access to making activities despite wide interest because expertise and resources are lacking, and more generally these technologies remain practically inaccessible to the majority of the population.

Citizen Naturewatch will bring digital making to a new and broad UK audience by linking with the BBC's award-winning Springwatch series to produce collections of bespoke digital devices that viewers can make at home.

Springwatch, produced by the BBC Natural History Unit over an intensive three-week period, is shot live from a home base usually located in a nature reserve. The core of the show consists of footage gathered from numerous outdoor cameras that film birds and animals throughout the site, as well as footage from other locations, all strung together, enlivened and enriched with commentary from expert presenters. The devices we build will add to this content by supporting people from around the UK to collect images, sounds and data that might be used on the show. The devices will be developed in consultation with the Natural History Unit as well as other relevant expert groups, and might include systems for photographing, weighing and even identifying local birds, or for tracking foxes, watching fish, or counting hedgehogs. The aim will be to produce designs that are engaging, easy and affordable to build, and which produce content worthy of showing on Springwatch.

We will produce an initial set of designs and kits to try out with 'seed groups' including makers, students and wildlife clubs. With their help we will refine the designs for release as open-source specifications to reach the widest possible audiences. With promotion by the BBC, and easy to follow instructions including videos, we anticipate them being taken up by hackers, hobbyists, student clubs and birdwatching groups all over the UK. Over the course of two Springwatch cycles, we will develop the designs, and the publics who engage with them, as a resource that can augment Springwatch's existing content.

Springwatch is already a world-leading example of public engagement with environmental science. This project will support this mission by allowing people to gather their own environmentally-relevant data and content. In the process, we will support public engagement with new technologies as, motivated by the chance to contribute to the show, a range of students, hackers and nature lovers try out, modify and build the devices we come up with. Thus Citizen Naturewatch will serve as a powerful impetus to involve a wide public to engage in digital making activities. With the BBC helping to publicise the project, activities in schools and maker spaces, and a domain that should attract a wide variety of younger and older participants, the impact will potentially be to inspire and inform a wide range of UK citizens to engage with the latest technologies.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.gold.ac.uk